Please, don't say Hudson...
September 30, 2011 5:28 AM   Subscribe

Hello fellow NYCer's. There's a guy who is kind of special to me who really needs a mini break. I'd like to take him someplace kind of mellow and nature-y on Sunday. We just have the one day, and It should be within an hours drive or so.

I've already considered the beach (Fort Tilden specifically, which is where we normally go) and Harriman State Park just up the Palisades, but neither of those seem right for some reason. I'm looking for something new. It can be an activity, as long as it's mellow (like being on a boat or something). Not really into the quaint town thing, and I can spend some money if that's what it takes. It can also be something within the city that I don't know about/have forgotten that it exists.
What's your favorite getting away from the city and being chill but not too much of an ordeal spot?
posted by newpotato to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (18 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
you could bike/walk to/over the GW bridge into pallisade park. the northernmost parts of the westside bike path are super chill.
posted by nanhey at 5:37 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Probably a great weekend for a stroll on the high line. It's amazing [tame] wilderness in the City! And calm.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 5:49 AM on September 30, 2011

I think Storm King is the perfect retreat -- big art outside.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:54 AM on September 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

My wife and I always enjoyed strolling the grounds and walking though the greenhouses at Planting Fields out near Oyster Bay,Long Island. Its also a great place to bring a picnic lunch, though I seem to remember they have a Sunday morning brunch.
posted by Captain_Science at 5:55 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

The high line is great, but often crowded. There's some pretty amazing woodsy forest in Staten Island as part of the Greenbelt that you could hike together. If you want to increase the relaxation, take a ferry across, and look out over the water together for about twenty minutes.
posted by corb at 6:00 AM on September 30, 2011

Philisburg Manor is a FANTASTIC day trip, by car or train.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:13 AM on September 30, 2011

Fort Tryon Park and Inwood Hill Park are really close to each other, accessible by subway, and have remote enough spots that may suit. Inwood Hill has sole old caves that were used as shelter by Lenape hunters (it may have also been the spot where someone "bought' Manhattan Island for a handful of beads or whatever they say happened). In Fort Tyron you also have the Cloisters in case you want to get away from nature a bit; it's in an old monestary that was relocated from Italy (or France? I can't remember) and you can pretend you're medieval pilgrims coming to seek shelter when you're walking up the path to its door.

In Staten Island, there's the Mt. Loretto Unique Area, which is on the site of a farm that used to be connected with either an orphanage or a Catholic school (can't remember which). It's just...a big patch of empty land with a beach at one end; somewhere on the beach a local artist makes all sorts of funky stone cairns and leaves them there just for fun. Sometimes he's found planks of wood and incorporates them into the cairns and sculptures to make benches. This is also pretty remote -- it's a ride nearly to the end of the line of one of the buses on Staten Island. Two bus stops before Mt. Loretto is Wolfes Pond Park in Staten Island, which is its biggest park.

Parts of the Gateway National Recreation Area are also in Staten Island, and parts are also in the Rockaways. This is a nationally-managed park right in New York City; you can even go CAMPING there; at Floyd Bennet Field, a decommissioned airforce base. (It may be too late to reserve a campground, but you know for next time.) Gateway can be tricky to get to without a car, depending on what spot you want to get to; pick the part of Gateway you want to visit first and then check the Googlemaps "public transit" directions.

Brooklyn's Prospect Park has some fairly remote corners. Also, if you decide you want a bit of liveliness after a couple of hours of being mellow, Prospect Park is right next to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden -- which is having a chili pepper festival on Saturday. This is a LOT less crowded than its other big festival (the cherry blossom one), and most people congregate by the soundstage and the food anyway, leaving a lot of the rest of the garden free for strolling. So you could just hit up some of the booths selling chili pepper fudge or whatever (yes, it exists) and then slip off to one of the far-flung areas and just chill there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I like Dia:Beacon.

And you've said you go to Fort Tilden but have you considered Broad Channel? I always think it would be interesting to explore.
posted by mlle valentine at 6:31 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

thinkpiece is right, Storm King is great, if you decide that think of bringing a picnic basket. The only concern is it may rain this weekend.

I think you should try Cold Springs. It's really a cute little town with great views and you can duck into all of the little shops if it rains.

How about the Staten Island Botanical Garden? There is a Japanese Garden there that's serene.

Have a great weekend! : )
posted by Yellow at 6:59 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Storm King is great! I also like biking around Governor's Island - I am not sure the ferry is still running, but if it is it's free, and there are bikes for rent on the island. The Cloysters is also a stunningly beautiful place to spend some time, and if you live in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are a great place to spend some time. For skyline views and a carousel, the new Brooklyn Bridge Parks are very pretty and close to home. Within easy driving distance, the Planting Fields Arboretum is a lovely place to spend the day, and it's almost never crowded. In fact the times I've gone there were very few other people there.
posted by abirae at 7:45 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some great suggestions here already, here's one more:

The Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens

It could be within an hour's drive depending where in the city you're coming from and how much traffic you run into.
posted by tempythethird at 8:05 AM on September 30, 2011

Mainly wanted to second Yellow's weather caveat. I'd been planning a stay in the Hudson Valley this weekend but have been deterred by thunderstorm forecasts. The first indoorsy but interesting, tranquil place that comes to mind is the Chuang Yen Monastery, a Buddhist temple in North America. It's a 90-minute drive away so slightly farther than you asked for
posted by taramosalata at 8:08 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Ugh. So that's why there's Preview. Meant it has the largest Buddha statue in North America. And farther than you asked for but the oasis could be worth it.)
posted by taramosalata at 8:12 AM on September 30, 2011

Staten Island has a green belt, and as others have mentioned a lot of parks.
Planting Fields arboretum is nice, if you go further out on Long Island there is Bayard Cutting Arboertum.

Minnewaska state park is gorgeous, and fall colors up there are just starting. It is more than an hour though, closer to two.

Flatter and interesting to a coastal geology major like me is Connectquot river state park on Long Island, as well as Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook has the largest holly trees in the world, yes trees not bushes. and also disused Nike Missile sites. Plus, you know a huge beach.

I can also second third or nth Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Cloisters. Also there is part of Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge near Broad Channel that is prime bird watching spot. A lot of birds are migrating south on the Great Atlantic flyway right now. Should be prime bird watching.

And do not forget Wave Hill..
posted by xetere at 8:56 AM on September 30, 2011

Storm King seconded.
posted by willpie at 11:51 AM on September 30, 2011

Grounds for Scupture, Hamilton NJ.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:30 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Wave Hill.
posted by sdn at 5:32 PM on September 30, 2011

Sadly, abirae, last weekend was Governor's Island's last for the season. It is now closed until May.

If a hike is okay, you can take the Metro North to Breakneck Ridge. There are only two trains each on Sat and Sunday, 7:47 and 8:47am. The first half hour of the hike is the hardest, then it flattens out. Get a map... I don't know what's online, but Paragon should have one in the hiking section. The hike takes you back into Cold Spring, where cheap pizza, beer, and ice cream will await you.
posted by SirNovember at 5:36 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

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